Suicide attack kills 27 at Pakistan funeral
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (UPDATED) - A suicide bombing at a funeral in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday killed at least 27 people and wounded 55 others, police said.
The attack in Shergarh town in Mardan district, 145 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of Islamabad, was the deadliest to hit Pakistan since the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office earlier this month.
The blast, which police said appeared to target the politician, highlights the security challenges facing the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sworn in earlier this month after winning the May 11 general election.
Local police chief Tahir Ayub said it was a suicide attack.
Another local police official Abdul Samad Khan confirmed the toll, while another police official, Jaffer Khan, confirmed it was a suicide attack.
"The bomber came on foot and blew himself up near Imran Khan Mohmand, who seems to have been the target," Khan told AFP.
Mohmand was elected last month to the provincial assembly in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party heads the new coalition government.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is on the frontline of a seven-year Taliban insurgency and borders the semi-autonomous tribal belt, where US drone strikes target Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives.
Washington considers the tribal areas a major hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
Tackling homegrown Islamist militancy is one of the major tasks for Sharif's new national government -- more than 6,000 people have died in attacks in Pakistan in the past six years according to an AFP tally.
Tuesday's bombing comes three days after 25 people died when militants blew up a bus carrying female students in the southwestern city of Quetta and stormed a hospital where survivors were taken for treatment.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' education, denounced the attack on the Quetta bus as "cowardly".
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy for global education, said it was the "bloodiest atrocity yet in escalating violence against female students".
Malala was shot at point-blank range by a Taliban gunman as her school bus travelled through northwest Pakistan's Swat Valley on October 9 last year, in an attack that drew worldwide condemnation.
She was flown to Britain for surgery on her head injuries and returned to school in Birmingham, central England, in March. -Rappler.com